Saturday, 17 March 2012

Currently Reading and Genre Challenge for March

I'm having lots of fun with my Reading Group challenges this year. It's my second year taking part in various reading challenges from my Goodreads book groups and I am having so much fun. I've carried over some challenges, such as the A-Z challenge and the Around the World in 80 books as they are longer term, but the annual 12 + 2 is going very well and the others that I take part in as well.

Reading Group Challenge - 12 + 2

In my 12 + 2 challenge (basically select 12 books plus 2 alternates for completion in 2012), I'm doing very well, having completed six of my selections so far. At the moment, I'm about 3/4 of the way through my 7th selection, Canadian author Robertson Davies' The Rebel Angels. During my university years, back in the mid-70's I had read his Deptford Trilogy; Fifth Business, The Manticore and World of Wonders. It was a fascinating series, magical in fact and I had enjoyed very much. Having said that, I never had any desire to follow on and explore his other novels. Tastes move on, I guess. Recently, I rediscovered him, purchasing the first in the Cornish trilogy from an on-line book store that was having a sale. When I was selecting my books for the 12 + 2 challenge I added The Rebel Angels and I'm so glad I did. What an excellent novel so far. The story is narrated by two individuals, Maria Magdelena Theotoky, a part-gypsy, university student, working for a professor she loves. The other narrator is another university professor, Simon Darcourt, an Anglican priest, who teaches classics and develops his own love for the beautiful Maria. Binding these narratives is the bequest of a collector of antiquity; paintings, manuscripts, etc, the eccentric Francis Cornish, who designates 3 professors as executors of his estate. This description only touches on the intricacies of the story. It deals with romance, philosophy, gypsy magic, love and so many other things. It's well-written; Davies has a wonderful way with words, his ideas become intricately woven into the story. And the story is interesting, developed lovingly and I can't wait to finish!!

(Editor's Updt - Finished this evening and thoroughly enjoyed. Best book I've read this year. 5 stars)

March Genre Challenge - Romance
My other current reading choice is American writer Herman Raucher's Summer of '42, a classic novel and Academy Award- nominated film. I'm reading this as one of my March Genre challenge books, that being the Romance/ Erotica category. I'm playing a bit loosey - goosey with the category, as I don't think it really qualifies under the Erotica portion, but there is a definite romantic vision in the story. The movie has been a favourite of mine, even though I didn't get to see it until many years after its release in 1971. As I read the book, I can see that Robert Mulligan, the director, was very faithful to the story and reading it has brought the movie back to me quite clearly. The book tells the story of Hermie and his friends, spending their summer vacation Nantucket Island, fending off boredom and finding love and 'sex'. In Hermie's case, the love interest is an older, married woman whose husband has gone off to fight in WWII, leaving her on her own. Ultimately, his distant admiration/ lust brings them together for a fateful evening. I won't say more, but the story is excellent; humorous (laugh out loud moments, in fact) and well-crafted. I am so enjoying the book and await impatiently the crucial scene, as it is so well-directed and presented in the movie. A great story so far.

March Genre # 1
 The March genre challenge wasn't one for which I had voted. In fact, I selected westerns, but Romance/ Erotica won out. I've purchased 4 books to choose from in the category and Summer of '42 is the second I've worked on. The first I attempted was a D.H. Lawrence novella, The Virgin and the Gypsy. It tells the story of two daughters of an Anglican vicar, Yvette and Lucille, returning from school abroad and trying to bring some excitement into the boring lives they lead with their father and his old mother and bitter sister. Yvette meets a gypsy who awakens a sexual curiosity in her. She also meets a married woman who has left her husband and living with her lover.

This is a small story, but interesting. There is a hint of eroticism in it and the budding of romantic/ sexual feelings in Yvette. It was a nice teaser for the monthly challenge and an introduction to D.H. Lawrence for me. I had taken Sons and Lovers at university, but it wasn't a novel at that time that made an impression on me. I did enjoy The Virgin and the Gypsy and it may encourage me to read more Lawrence.

As a matter of interest, I also purchased three other novels that fall into the March genre category. Whether I get the chance to read one or the other in March, I do intend to attempt them this year.

  Vladimir Nabokov wrote Lolita in 1955. The novel was and is controversial. It tells the story of middle-aged literature professor, Humbert Humbert, who becomes obsessed with 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved when he becomes her stepfather. His nickname for her is Lolita.

It's a premise that makes me uncomfortable, but I may persevere as it is a classic for its time. It was made into movies twice, the first by Stanley Kubrick in 1962.  It starred James Mason, Shelley Winters, Peter Sellars and Sue Lyon as Lolita. The other was in 1997 by Adrian Lynne, starring Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffiths and Dominique Swain as Lolita.

If I do read it, I'll let you know my thoughts..

D.H. Lawrence

The second D.H. Lawrence novel that I purchased was Lady Chatterley's Lover. It was originally published privately in 1928 and could not be openly published in the UK until 1960. It became notorious for its explicit descriptions of sex and use of, at the time, unprintable words. The story summary is as follows - (taken from back cover of this edition)

"Clifford Chatterley returns from the First World War as an invalid. Constance nurses him and tries to be the dutiful wife but begins to feel oppressed by their childless marriage and isolated life. Partly encouraged by Clifford to seek a lover, she embarks on a passionate affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. Through their liaison, Lawrence explores the complications of sex, love and class."

There were many film adaptations, including the 1981 film version starring Sylvia Kristel and Nicholas Clay.

John Fowles

The final book that I chose for this challenge was John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman. It tells the story of Sarah Woodruff, a disgraced Englishwoman, who has been abandoned by her French lover. Charles Smithson, a 19th century gentleman, falls in love with her. The book tells the story of their love affair.

The book was adapted for film by director Karl Reisz and playwright Harold Pinter. It starred Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons and received 5 Oscar nominations, including Meryl Streep as Best Actress and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

So as you can see, I went a bit overboard on the March challenge. I'll let you know as I attempt and finish these books.

Keep on reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails